UConn Basketball: Power Ranking Jim Calhoun's All-Time Great Coaching Seasons

Chris CarsonContributor IApril 5, 2011

UConn Basketball: Power Ranking Jim Calhoun's All-Time Great Coaching Seasons

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    Jim Calhoun has been a college basketball coach for for forty years.

    He began at Northeastern in 1971 and took over at UConn in 1986 where he has been ever since.

    He has coached 26 professional basketball players, appeared in four Final Fours, and won three National Championships.

    He has survived prostate cancer and he has been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

    Jim Calhoun may be one of the most polarizing figures in basketball. Even some people in Connecticut aren't convinced that Calhoun deserves all of the accolades, considering him the second best coach in Storrs.

    But take him or leave him, Calhoun is one of the most successful coaches at any level.

    Here is an attempt to look back on 10 of the best seasons in Calhoun's 40 year career.

10. 1997–98

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    All–American guard Ray Allen was gone, but still Jim Calhoun put together one of his best seasons in his time at  UConn.

    In the 1997–98 season, the Huskies went 32–5, earning a number two seed in the NCAA Tournament.

    UConn made it to the Elite Eight but lost to number one seed North Carolina, in Greensboro.

    Richard Hamilton, Khalid El-Amin and Jake Voskuhl were all on that team, which would go on to win a National Championship the following year.

9. 1995–96

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    Led by Ray Allen, one of the greatest Huskies of all time, Jim Calhoun coached his team to a 30–2 record overall.

    UConn received a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament but was eventually upset by Mississippi State.

    The real accomplishment came in league play.

    That year the Huskies finished first in the Big East with a 17–1 record.

    Impressive, considering how deep the conference was that year with players like Kerry Kittles at Villanova, Allen Iverson at Georgetown and John Wallace at Syracuse, the national runner up that year.

8. 1985–86

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    In Jim Calhoun's final season at Northeastern he led the Huskies to their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

    Their overall record that year was 26–5 and they finished first in the North Atlantic Conference.

    Northeastern lost to Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

    Calhoun's Northeastern team was led by former Boston Celtics captain and one time NBA All–Star, Reggie Lewis.

7. 2001–02

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    The 2001–02 UConn Huskies were identical to this year's UConn team because they were both led by a superstar upperclassman who was supported by a group of talented freshman.

    In 2001, that superstar was forward Caron Butler, and the freshmen were Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon.

    Jim Calhoun coached that team to a 27–7 record and an appearance in the Elite Eight.

    UConn lost to Maryland, the eventual National Champion.

    However, Calhoun and the Huskies did win the Big East Tournament, beating Pittsburgh in a double over time thriller.

6. 1987–88

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    If you look at the record alone, the 1987–88 UConn Huskies appear to be one of Calhoun's worst teams.

    They finished the year 20–14 overall, 4–12 in the league.

    But with a cast of players such as Clifford Robinson, Tate George and Phil Gamble, Calhoun and the Huskies were able to rally and win the NIT Tournament.

    It has been said that the 1987–88 team that won the NIT, set the ball rolling in the right direction for Calhoun and UConn basketball.

5. 2008–09

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    The highlight of the 2008–09 season, at least for most sports fans, was the six overtime classic against Syracuse in the Big East Tournament.

    That game ended in a loss for the Huskies.

    But in the NCAA Tournament, UConn won, and kept winning until they reached the Final Four.

    The season ended in a loss to Michigan State, on a neutral court in Detroit of all places.

    Still, the Huskies finished the year 31–5 overall and they made it all the way to the Final Four with their best player, guard Jerome Dyson, sidelined with a torn ACL.

4. 2003–04

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    The 2003–04 season ended on a high note: Jim Calhoun's second National Championship.

    Led by Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon, the Huskies were consistently the best team in the country, finishing with an overall record of 33–6.

    Their record could have been better but Okafor missed a few games due to constant back spasms.

    In the NCAA Tournament UConn won all but one game by at least three possessions.

    They beat Duke by one point in the Final Four, after that the next closest game was a nine point win over Georgia Tech in the National Championship.

3. 1989–90

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    The 1989–90 season has been dubbed "The Dream Season" by UConn faithful.

    The Huskies finished the year 31–6 overall, gaining a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.

    "The Dream Season" was capped off by "The Shot," the infamous full court heave from Scott Burrell to Tate George which led to a last second fade away that beat Clemson in the Sweet Sixteen.

    However, in the following game, the Huskies were beat by Duke, when Christian Laettner hit a buzzer beater of his own.

    But what was done was done. Following that season UConn made the NCAA Tournament almost every year, and Jim Calhoun had officially turned UConn into a force to be reckoned with.

2. 1998–99

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    The 1998–99 season was Jim Calhoun and the UConn Huskies' first National Championship.

    Led by guard Richard Hamilton and Khalid El–Amin, the Huskies finished the year 34–2.

    UConn beat Duke by three in the Championship game.

    Duke had won 37 games that year, and though they lost in the Championship, they will go down as one of the best teams in college basketball history.

1. 2010–11

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    This year has been Calhoun's finest coaching job in his long career.

    UConn began the year unranked and even as they faced criticism from all angles they continued to win.

    Guard Kemba Waker was the undisputed leader all season long. Surrounded by a core of talented freshmen, he was able to lead the Huskies to 32–9 overall record, capping it off with a National Championship.

    Calhoun was able to make all the necessary adjustments and keep the team motivated enough to win their last 11 games in a row.

    The Butler game was one of the worst offensive games of all time. Finding a way to win games like that can be more challenging than winning games that come down to the last shot.

    As of last night Calhoun now has three National Championships, putting him in the same company as Bobby Knight and Adolph Rupp.